Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Asian ethnic groups show off their culture for appreciative crowd at Asia Fest

TAMPA — Watching Sundui Chimidkorloo, dressed in a yellow traditional Mongolian costume, sit and pluck out the refrain of America, the Beautiful on a horse head violin perfectly encapsulated the experience of attending Saturday's Asia Fest 2014.

People looked on in silence as they listened to the familiar tune spiral out of the two-stringed, ancient instrument that is played like a cello.

"It's beautiful," said Lona Woods, 57, of The Villages, who came to Tampa to support her husband's dragon boat team competing at the Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Races.

"I think it's wonderful to be able to see all the different cultures and ethnicities out here," Woods said. "I was here with The Leathernecks from The Villages last year, but I never came back this far in the park."

Celebrating 31 years of Asia Fests, the Asian-American Coalition of Florida brought together the Tampa Bay area's 17 Asian ethnic groups to put on a three-hour program in Cotanchobee Park, in the shadow of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Performances from seven countries, interspersed with presentations from the eight women vying to be Miss Asia Fest 2014, drew a steady crowd of onlookers.

Many in the audience were of non-Asian descent, a fact Dr. Kimi Springsteen, Asian-American affairs liaison for Hillsborough County, counts as a win.

"That's exactly what we want out here," she said. "We want people to come out and experience the culture firsthand and see the folk dances and the costumes."

Jason Lossa, 33, wanted to come to Asia Fest last year but work got in the way. This year, he showed up early and got himself a prime viewing spot.

"I think I want to stay until the very end," said the Home Depot employee from Tampa. "I'm not sure I'm looking for anything in particular. I just wanted to be here."

To kick off the event, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner and Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez brought greetings and proclamations from local government before heading off to the VIP tent for a sit-down meal of delicacies from several different Asian nations.

"One of the things we have that makes the Tampa Bay area great is a large community with a rich history from the Far East coming here and making us stronger with their diversity," Suarez said.

Of the eight rich histories represented in the Miss Asia Fest 2014 pageant, it was Miss China, Di Li, who took home the crown.

"I moved to Tampa three years ago from Shandong Province," said the 19-year-old University of South Florida industrial engineering major. "It's a coastal city and Tampa's a coastal city, so when I got here it already felt like home."

Li's family came to watch her be crowned Saturday afternoon, a coronation that wasn't a certainty to her until the moment she heard her name.

"All the girls were so good," Li said. "So I didn't put too much pressure on myself today and I think that really helped me."

She said she got involved in Asia Fest and the pageant as an opportunity to improve her presentation skills, be a role model for other girls and learn about the other countries being represented.

"This is great way to empower Asian women," Li said.

Her crowning ended the program portion of the event but the seven restaurants representing different countries were still drawing in customers from the neighboring Dragon Boat festival and people wandering around downtown Tampa.

Some people were still arriving as booths and tents began to fold up their tables to go home.

"The crowd was very strong this year," Springsteen said. "I'm really happy."

Asian ethnic groups show off their culture for appreciative crowd at Asia Fest 04/26/14 [Last modified: Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]